More than just a double decker bus

If you’ve lived in Burnley for some time, the chances are you’ve spotted the very large and colourful SPACE Youth Bus. The bus is the brainchild of The Participation Works, a not-for-profit organisation that supports young people and their families across East Lancashire.

The Participation Works assist young people with their emotional health and wellbeing, career aspiration, educational attainment and interpersonal skills, with the Youth Bus just one way they do this. met with director Lynne Blackburn to find out more about how they are passionate about raising the ambitions and wellbeing of young people in our community.

The Participation Works Youth Bus

“The Youth Bus is one of our projects that we are perhaps recognised the most for. It’s a specially converted double decker bus which is free for young people to hop on in Padiham and Burnley. Here, they can use the internet to do research and homework, as it may surprise some to hear that many families just don’t have the internet at home. Young people can hang out in a positive and safe place, play computer games, talk to our staff and volunteers and hopefully come away feeling inspired and uplifted”, Lynne told us.

It certainly is an inspiring initiative, but we found out that The Participation Works, which is also a Burnley Bondholder, provides many other services across East Lancashire.

Building on its success with preparing young people for job applications and interviews, it is working with Calico and Burnley Council on Thrive, the youth employment and skills hub, which was the first to be launched in Lancashire earlier this year.

It also has successfully delivered countless projects across many different cultures and communities.

“One project we worked with Calico on involved year 6 and year ten girls collaborating with Burnley designer Becca Who to create their own fabrics and then make bags, which were showcased at Burnley Mechanics. The project really built confidence in the girls and showed them what they could achieve. Three of the four year ten girls are now going to university, and we’ve supported them with those applications,” Lynne said.

This is an incredible achievement, but she added that with Children in Need funding ending this December for The Participation Works, she is looking for local sponsors who could perhaps offer time, finances or other resources to help them continue their valued work.

Another arm to what they deliver are their afterschool clubs, aimed at children who require extra support. They are informal, welcoming and packed with fun activities, such as building robots out of recycling.

They also provide parent and carer sessions, which covers topics such as affordable and healthy recipes and practical cookery sessions and budgeting.

A huge thank you to The Participation Works for everything they do in Burnley and Padiham, make sure you check out their website and social media pages to find out more.